Do Mutual Funds Perform When it Matters Most to Investors? U.S. Mutual Fund Performance and Risk in Recessions and Expansions
Quarterly Journal of Finance, Vol. 1, No. 3, November 2011
Posted: 25 Aug 2011 Last revised: 5 Sep 2011
Date Written: August 25, 2011
This paper shows that the stylized fact of average mutual fund underperformance documented in the literature stems from expansion periods when funds have statistically significant negative risk-adjusted performance and not recession periods when risk-adjusted fund performance is positive. These results imply that traditional unconditional performance measures understate the value added by active mutual fund managers in recessions, when investors' marginal utility of wealth is high. The risk-adjusted performance (or alpha) difference between recession and expansion periods is statistically and economically significant at 3 to 5 percent per year. Our findings are based on a novel multi-variate conditional regime-switching performance methodology used to carry out one of the most comprehensive examinations of the performance of US domestic equity mutual funds in recessions and expansions from 1962 to 2005. The findings are robust to the choice of the factor model (including bond and liquidity factor extensions), the use of NBER business cycle dates, fund load, turnover, expenses and percentage of equity holdings.
Keywords: mutual funds, portfolio choice, asset pricing, asymmetric information, business cycles, Markov-switching models
JEL Classification: C22, D8, E32, G11, G12, G23
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation